Congressional hopeful Betsy Markey (D-Fort Collins) told students at Poudre High School Saturday that although they are not yet eligible to vote in Super Tuesday’s primary, they can still affect a change in politics locally and nationally.
Answering questions from the students, her son Al Markey among them, she talked to the youth, about the impact of national and local issues on their lives, spending the most time on education, health care, the economy and the environment.
The candidate, who challenges Marilyn Musgrave (R-Fort Collins) for Colorado’s Fourth Congressional District seat, said the federal government must fund and regulate education to an extent, but also allow state and local governments the ability to run schools in accordance with the needs of the community.
“Education is one of those issues where we need a lot of flexibility for the state and local governments,” she said. “A bottom up approach is better than a top down approach.”
She talked about 2001’s controversial No Child Left Behind Act and the negative implications it has on K-12 education. Markey said the law should not be extended when it is scheduled to expire in 2011. But if NCLB is reauthorized, she said, it needs drastic changes.
She decried the NCLB provision that requires schools to comply with federal testing standards and allowing the government to punish them even if they just miss the mark.
“(Schools) have made great gains, but they’re not quite there yet and they’re getting punished for that,” she said.
Markey said there should be an incentive program instead of a punishment system.
Addressing health care, she said the industry does provide comprehensive coverage for Americans as hospitals can’t refuse care for patients without money, but that it’s not satisfactory.
“If your house is on fire, the fire department isn’t going to say, ‘Oh do you have fire insurance? No? Oh, we can’t help you.'” she said. “We’re providing health care in a very costly and inefficient way.”
On global warming, she said the government should provide awareness about the issue that is sometimes ignored or written off by the public and even by politicians
“Some of the people I’ve talked to who are elected official still think global warming is a hoax,” she said. “I think the science is clear.”
She said if she gets elected, she will sponsor progressive climate change legislation that would support renewable energy technology and encourage Colorado to use what she said are unparalleled resources in the state from wind to agriculture.
She also talked about sustaining the U.S. economy, which has spiraled down to dismal depths over the last few months.
Markey said financial resources are dwindling and told students that it would be up to their generation to fix it.
“We’re borrowing from future generations and they’re gonna pay for it and that’s not fair,” she said. “The baby boomer generation is about to retire, we know that. The burden is going to be on your back to take care of that.”
Finally, weighing in on the presidential race, she said candidates are too focused on slamming each other and don’t pay enough attention to the issues facing the next administration.
“We’re all tired of name calling,” she said. “We’re all tired of Democrats calling Republicans obstructionists and the Republicans calling Democrats tax-and-spenders.”
When she was done talking, she told the Collegian that she would be caucusing for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) on Tuesday.
News Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.